ELLIOT Dee’s run of 18 successive Wales Tests is in doubt because a rib injury has prevented the Dragons hooker from taking a full part in training ahead of the Six Nations opener against Italy.

The 25-year-old from Newbridge has featured in every international since being an unused replacement in the 2018 autumn encounter Australia.

Dee played in every Test last year, helping Wales win a Grand Slam and make the World Cup semi-finals, as well as the uncapped fixture against the Barbarians in November to establish himself as deputy for Lions hooker Ken Owens.

However, the Dragons front rower has not been able to take a full part in preparations for Saturday’s Principality Stadium clash with Italy (kick-off 2.15pm).

Dee was forced off early in the second half of the European Challenge Cup victory against Enisei-STM on January 17.

South Wales Argus:

That leaves Ryan Elias likely to back up his Scarlets teammate Owens, ending Dee’s remarkable streak on the international stage.

“Elliot hasn’t taken much part in training at the moment,” admitted backs coach Stephen Jones. “Fingers crossed he can make a speedy recovery.”

Wing Owen Lane was released from the squad last week after suffering a hamstring injury in training and full-back Liam Williams is targeting the trip to Ireland in round two after being absent since an ankle injury suffered at the World Cup.

Centre Owen Watkin (knee) is making good progress but Wales could start with Hadleigh Parkes and wing George North in midfield against the Azzurri.